Thursday, August 8, 2013

Another Day, Another DOLLA

Since returning home from my mission, I've spent countless hours in the temple praying to know what I am supposed to do. I've spent every Sunday after church meeting with my Bishop, and I've emailed my Mission President more times than I'd like to admit, searching for advice. They all spoke the same phrase to me, suggesting that I quote, "move on." Comforting right. WRONG.

But... I know that these men are called of God and are inspired, and if they all gave me the same suggestion, it might as well be gold. So as I've been looking for what exactly "moving on" means, I decided it was time to get a job. So two weeks ago I decided to apply at Target, because I just love Target and ARUP Laboratories because one of my best friends growing up worked their after we graduated and he loved it. They called me and I went in for an interview and just kept looking. While I was waiting to hear from them, one of my really good friends Syd texted me and asked if I needed a job, and hooked me up with an interview at Downeast Basics at the Gateway because she worked for Downeast. So I ran to the interview pretty much, and was instantly hired. On my way home, Target called and offered me a job, which I politely declined because I just loved my boss at Downeast. She seriously is the cutest girl, and so nice.

Later on this week, after my first day at Downeast, ARUP called and offered me a job as an Exceptions Handling Technician. Not exactly sure what that position means but, I was beyond excited for the job. The pay is wonderful, its full-time but its 7on/7off so its a little weird. I was so sad to have to call and let Downeast call, so I threw myself on my Mom's bed and told her all about it. To which she responded, "Poor kid, sorry you can't have them both!!" I felt the same exact way. So I depressingly called Jenn, my boss at Downeast and told her that I was offered a job at ARUP and explained how I was offered better pay, and more benefits and felt like I needed to take the job. To which she responded how much she loved me, the company needed me and she would be willing to work with whatever schedule I could give her to keep me. Including offering whatever pay raise she could. I COULD HAVE BOTH!

So this week I learned the accuracy of the statement, "When God closes a door, He opens a window."
Heavenly Father is requiring me to get healthy, and "Move On." But He is making that process a little easier. A few weeks ago, I was complaining to one of my friends how it seems like when RM's come home home they just have jobs "fall" into their laps, and that wasn't happening to me and she responded by telling me to just be patient. Something I'm not very good at. I am so grateful that I have so many blessings headed my way. Hopefully with such great sources of income I'll be able to save money to get back to BYU sooner rather than later, maybe get a car, and get a jump start on my savings!!

Thank you for the continued prayers on my behalf. Things are looking up. As for my health right now, not much progress since the last update. I had my MRI last Friday, but we haven't gotten any results yet. One of my new medications, called Topamax, is having a fun side-effect though. My memory is the size of a goldfish. I am pretty much Dory. I literally forget things as I am saying them. I have to write things on Post-It Notes but I forget what they are for when I get around to re-reading them! My migraines are down to about once a week which is a total improvement, but I still have a throbbing headache every day, so hopefully we will see more improvement on that. Once we hear back with the results from my MRI, we will know more about the lumbar puncture and the next steps going forward. But my plan is to keep on keepin on!

If you made it this long without bailing, here are some pictures to reward you for your patience and diligence. Sorry it was so lengthy!!

Recent temple trip with one of my favorite Sisters from my mission. Forgot to take a picture by the temple, so we got the lovely parking garage. Equally as artistic.... Right??

 I didn't realize how SAD farewells are. Mine was fun. Saying goodbye was fun when I was the one leaving. I went to one of my best friends farewell's from high school... one of the few left. Weird. But it wasn't that fun knowing that she was leaving and I was staying. But it was good to see Amy Baby making such GREAT choices. Guatemala is lucky!!

Just tryin on wigs after Chemo with my favorite Survivor ever. Huntsman is like the flippin Ritz. That place is sha-naz-ay. The wigs however, are not.

Happy Birthday to Utah and my Brother Riley!! Nothing says party like a rodeo. YEEEHAW!! I sure felt uncomfortable at that venue. Let me tell you what. Nothin makes your head hurt like immodesty. Just sayin.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Fatal Blow.

Wednesday afternoon I was lucky enough to meet with a doctor at the headache clinic at the University of Utah's headache clinic. Which bytheway, has a waiting list through December, but they moved some people around and had me seen this week because I was a special case. Gotta love that. The appointment went as expected, I listed my symptoms and she nodded and kept a smile smeared on her face but her insides were freaking out. After making some game plans, scheduling MRI's and starting new medications she started to mention "In a few months" and "We won't be able to tell for a while" phrases. So at the end of my appointment I finally asked the doctor my long anticipated question, "So Dr. Steffens, when is the best time for me to plan on returning on my mission." I thought her face would have been a little less shocked but she very quickly replied, "Um.. No. That chapter is over Katie. God appreciates your service, you did a great job. It's over now. Time to move on. You have a medical condition that will not allow you to travel far, let alone travel to be a missionary. I'm so sorry. Get a job. Go back to school. Get your health under control." Que the tears. I don't know why I didn't see that coming. But I think I thought I might have been soothed a little more. But, the way she said it I couldn't change around so it would fit what I wanted. So I am a forever Gentile. My dreams of returning to the PPM have quickly been shattered. But in the few days since that has happened I've seen how much Heavenly Father has blessed my life.
I was given 7 months to serve a mission when others are given none. I recognize how blessed I am and how lucky I am to be given the time I was to serve. I have absolutely no regrets. I served every second as best I could, I know I left it all out on the field. When I first got home I was talking to one of my companions who is home and explained how much I wanted to go back and she asked the question "Well Sister Andresen, do you feel like you've left anyone behind?" I really thought and prayed about that questions and felt confident in answering "No. I didn't." I think I should have taken that as a sign for what was coming, but I didn't. I know that I needed to serve a mission at the time I did, for a reason. I needed to meet the people I did, to learn lessons I never could have learned on my own. My testimony of the Book of Mormon has grown ten fold. My relationship with my Savior has developed in ways in only could as a missionary. I am sad I only got seven months to be a missionary, but I will forever be changed by those seven months.
So for now, the plan is to get healthy. I had an MRI this morning that will hopefully show the progress (or lack thereof) with my Chiari Malformation and whatever else is going on with my spazzy brain. I started a new truck load of medication that should start to help with a lot of the symptoms I am experiencing, not just the migraines. So all in all, I am being taken care of. I am so grateful for all the love and support that I have been shown since I got home. I am one lucky RM. Now on to becoming a functioning adult. Boo......

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 15, 2013

This week has been a long one! And I think its easier to just start from the beginning. Monday, after emailing, I got a really strong feeling that at interviews on Friday, President Topham was going to send me home because of my migraines. It was the exact same feeling that I got when I felt like I was going to Berwick. So Monday I went into total panic mode, started freaking out to my companion and the Elders in the car and was a basket case all day. Tuesday I decided I had better pray about it and figure out if I really needed to prepare myself for what I thought was coming. At the beginning of my personal study I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to let my studies help me figure out what the best steps for the next few weeks were going to be, staying on a mission or if President suggests I go home, being okay with that. During my studies I read my Patriarchal Blessing, my Setting Apart blessing, and the Book of Mormon and felt super conflicted because it seemed like everything I read applied to both situations. Every line I read worked both ways. At the end of my studies I was fussing to Heavenly Father how I didn't want to go home and how I didn't understand what that meant if my life applied in both situations. Then the thought came, "You can have both." During companionship study I explained what had happened to Sister Maddox who helped me figure out a little, but I was still really annoyed that I didn't have a crystal clear answer. Then the phone rang during studies, which never happens. And it was the doctor I saw last week calling about scheduling an MRI and I didn't know some of the information he needed so I called Sister Topham, who gave me permission to call home! It was such a blessing being able to talk to Mom and Dad Tuesday and explain how I felt. We decided to fast as a family on Wednesday. Wednesday as I was fasting and continuing to pray for an answer, I decided to read this months Ensign. The Ensign pretty much flipped right open to an article called "A Time For Faith not Fear." As I read that title and read the article I made a list of all the reasons why I was scared to be sent home. Not wanting to look like a failure. Not wanting to disappoint people. Not wanting to LEAVE! Not wanting to deal with Gentile problems. And as I was making this list, I realized all the reasons why I wouldn't be okay with being sent home were made out of fear, not faith. I instantly felt the Spirit reassure the quote in the Ensign "Now is a time for faith, not fear." I remade my list based on faith and couldn't find a good reason for not supporting my mission president and being obedient, if he felt like I needed to go home. At that point I knew I was going to be sent home. And it would be okay and the right decision, if I had faith to be obedient. Thursday was the longest day of my life waiting for interviews. I made Sister Maddox role play with me my interview with President so that I could have the potential of not being a blubbering baby. It was pretty funny. "Now you be President!" "President would never sit like that" "Fine Ill be President, you be me!" "How will that help anyone!?" :) When Friday morning finally came I was cool as a cucumber, until it was my turn for interviews. I knew what was coming, but it still didn't feel "real" until I heard it from President. President Topham was so sweet. He talked to me about how my migraines have been, and some of the options I had staying in the mission field. Then he told me a story about when Brigham Young was the prophet, a man came to him and told him he was sick and asked for a blessing. Brigham Young asked him if he had seen a doctor yet and the man was like "No! That's why I came to you!" and Brigham Young said pretty much, God already blessed you by giving you a doctor. Then he said "Well Sister Andresen, what are we going to do?" Which was the exact phrase I had heard him say to me in my head on Thursday when we were role playing! I explained to him the experiences I had that week and told him how I felt about fear and faith and said I needed to have more faith. At that point he was crying, and I was heave sobbing and I said "I think I'm supposed to go home" in between my sobs and he said "I think you are right Sister Andresen. You are going to be okay! Everything is going to be worked out." He explained to me how when I am released I will be honorably released, not just released. He was like "Sister Andresen, you haven't done anything wrong. You should be very proud of yourself." I, again through my heave sobs, explained that I didn't want to be released and I just wanted to see a doctor and get my migraines under control and come right back. He thought that was a good idea and told me that we would chat about that later. He explained that he cant just send people home, he has to talk to the mission department in Salt Lake but he felt "very confident they will agree" and would be in contact with me later. He just called and let me know I will be arriving in Salt Lake Wednesday evening. My interviews were over at 9:40 and at 9:44 I got a call from Sister Kirk and she was sobbing and said "He did it, didnt he! I cant handle this!!" Then I heave sobbed to Sister Kirk for a while. Then she called Sister Ferrin, who called me. Then I heave sobbed to her. Now I think I'm mostly under control. Its just been a strange few days. Sam Webb, from State College, came up Friday and Saturday to be a team-up for us and make sure I didn't lose my mind. She was a total tender mercy. She brought me cafe rio and helped me feel less panicked. President Topham called me last night and explained that the mission department has been closed all weekend but he called today and let me know my flight plans. I trust President Topham, and I know that Heavenly Father blessed me with a week to figure out my emotions before I saw President. I know that if he says its best for me to see a doctor and recoup at home, thats whats best. With that said, I don't want to be treated like a basket case when I come home Wednesday. I have seen how some missionaries are sent home and then they are picked up from the airport in the middle of the night, snuck into the basement, and never let out because they are so ashamed, and never want to talk about what happened. I am not that missionary. I love you all, but I am not excited to come home. I know that I need to get my migraines fixed, so I can work at 100%. I feel like this is the most important work I can be a part of and the most important thing I can do with my life. I have already changed so much in the past 7 months, and I can feel the changes that have happened since I left. I am not who I used to be. When I come home, I hope that people don't recognize me. I am not that Katie that left from Salt Lake, I am Sister Andresen. And I am excited to get a tune up and come back as Sister Andresen 2.0. So, if you'd like to schedule visiting time with me while I'm home, i've deemed my mother my companion and scheduler. So you'll have to fight with her to see me :) I'm not getting a cellphone, or a job, or a car, or a life. Because I just want to come back here. President Topham just told me that he wishes me well and hopes I can come back as soon as possible. So thats the plan. I'll see the inside of the doctors office, the inside of the temple and the inside of my parents room, then the inside of the airport and be back to the PPM! I love you all, and hope my email makes sense. A lot of stuff happened for an hour to write it all. See you later, gaters.
Sister Andresen

July 8, 2013

Hello all!!
Well this was an exciting week! I'll just start at the very beginning, thats a very good place to start. :) On Tuesday, we were sitting in the Ford Dealership waiting for our car to be fixed (something was dragging under the car. True to the Sister Missionary title, we called the mission office freaking out. I guess it wasnt as life threatening as we thought. Oops) Anyways, we had been there for like 2 hours, so I finally gave in and started to watch the Weather Channel. I was so horrified to see the temperatures that were coming in Utah and the storms coming to Pennsylvania, I was thoroughly entertained. Well, not too long after I gave into the temptation, President Topham called! I was convinced his spidey senses were tingling and he could tell I was watching the tv. I freaked out and threw the phone at Sister Maddox and was like "OH NO!!" She started laughing and answered and was like "It's for you...." DANG! So Im all hesitant on the phone and answered as Snow White-esq as possible. He didnt call to repremand me, he called me to extend the calling of being a Sister Training Leader! I about barfed on the floor. I was shocked. I was like "President, are you sure you know who you are talking to right now?" He laughed and was like "Yes Sister Andresen. I do." Sister Maddox was just laughing her head off listening to us talk. He invited me to attend the Missionary Leadership Counsel in Pittsburgh on July 5th and that was that! The Sister Training Leader position is the new position that was created after conference in April. Its like a Sister verison of a Zone Leader, kindof. If you look on it explains it a little better. Anyways, on Thursday afternoon, the Fourth of July, Sister Maddox and our zone leaders roadtripped for 5 hours to Pittsburgh! Sister Ferrin is a Sister Training Leader now too and she spent the night with us in Pittsburgh! it was so fun to see her and catch up. We actually spent the night at the Mission Mental Health Specialists apartment with him and his wife. It was slightly hilarious. Friday we had MLC, thats what the picture is from. Those Elders are a crack up. They were doing the funniest things while we took pictures at lunch. This picture is "EVERYONE PUT YOUR JACKETS ON INSIDE OUT!" haha. The Sisters didnt have jackets, obviously, so we just sat there. It was a really neat training and I learned how much planning and prayers go into being a leader. Sister Maddox and I are over 5 sets of sisters right now, covering 3 zones. Next transfer we will be over 8 sets of sisters! Which means we will be doing almost 2 exchanges a week. We are wondering if President will split us up next transfer, so that we wont have so many companionships. We will see. Last night a set of Elders in Harrisburg asked us if we could go visit a man they met that was in the hospital in our area. We said of course, grabbed the elders in our area so they could offer a blessing and rolled over to Holy Spirit Hospital. When we arrived, the room this man was in was crossed off all funny and had a scrub room attached. The nurse saw we were startled and asked if we had visited the man before. We were all like "" She explained that we had to scrub in, wear gowns, gloves and masks to avoid AIRBORNE CONTACT. This man has TB and other unknown stuff. OH MY HECK! We all about died. We pretty much held our breath while Elder Johnson gave this guy a blessing. The Harrisburg elders didnt warn us we could die. Flip! We were laughing after, but we were all pretty shocked. Hopefully I dont die like on Outbreak, Mom and Megs favorite show! I felt like I was in that movie during our visit with the guy. So funny. Well this week we are going on exchanges by Lancaster county, so that should be fun! We also have interviews with President Topham, which I am always excited about. I also have an MRI scheduled for my brain later this week. Send up some prayers for that. I saw a doctor about my headaches this week and he was a little more than concerned. Hopefully things go well with my MRI. Or you'll be seeing my cute face a lot sooner than you want to, I'd imagine. I LOVE YOU ALL!! This week is gonna be great.
Sister Andresen

July 1, 2013

HAPPY (almost) FOURTH OF JULY! I can't believe I missed Sun Valley AND Rammfest this year. Next year, Ill be there for both! Dont worry :) Man! another week! we are halfway through the transfer. Time is flying. This week we had a slower week. And I caught my first summer cold. I woke up on Tuesday with a scratchy throat and slowly but surely, runny nose, cough, fever and body aches all followed. Its been quite the fun expierence trying to manage while trying to still be effective missionaries. I've upped my water intake by at least double, hoping that will help. Im still coughing and sneezing a lot, but my throat is feeling better so thats a bonus. We had mission conference this week and President Topham updated us on the changes with missionary work from the broadcast. It doesnt look like anything will be happening anytime soon. He said that all the changes will happen "about 2 transfers after you all go home!" Too bad. There are a lot of things to still work through, so the soonest anything will start to change is mid 2014. Sad day for us :) We had a slower week, a lot of our appointments fell through this week. People in Pennsylvania dont really like to set appointments, I'm coming to find out. We always try to set return appointments and when we ask for a good time to come back, they just reply "Im home all the time" or "Stop by whenever." That makes it really hard for us to figure out our schedule and this week was a big example of that. We had a lot of people not home this week. And it was super rainy, so not a lot of people were outside. But we still were able to teach a few cute less-active sisters, and our investigator Gary. Gary still wont set a baptismal date, but he is close. During his lesson this week, he said he just wasnt quite ready. I felt the Spirit pretty strong and told Gary that I knew he was ready, and I knew he knew he was ready but I could just keep picturing him in white until he actually got in white and that softened his heart. He started crying and said that he would keep praying about it. But then he didnt show up to church. So Im not quite sure where he stands. I have faith that if he just decides to ACT that things will work out. He just doesnt seem like he wants to act. And thats a big step in faith, is taking a leap into the dark. We will see. This weekend a cute family in our ward had a "Firefly Party" and invited us because a lot of non-members were there. It was the cutest thing. They had a giant firepit and we all roasted smores and when it started to get a little darker and the fireflies came out, the kids all got jars and caught fireflies! It was so adorable! We had to leave pretty early into the firefly catching phase becasue the Spirit goes to bed at 9 :), but it was a lot of fun. Sienna, the little girl in the picture, is the daughter of a lady we are working with right now. She has been less-active a majority of her life, but has come to church for the past 4 weeks! Sienna is a cutie! She reminds me a lot of Meg actually. She just kid of does her own thing but when I asked her to help me roast a starburst, she jumped at the chance! It started to rain, so Sienna flipped out, but like any prepared misisonary, I grabbed my umbrella out of my backpack and we were good to roast! It was pretty fun! I've been thinking for the past few weeks about how long my hair has been and how hot i've been and asked around to find a place to get my haircut. We measured my hair and it was pleanty long to donate some hair and still have it long enough to pull into a ponytail and such. So this morning I went to get my haircut and gave the lady rather specific instructions as to how I would like my haircut. After throughly explaining how I want my hair below my shoulders, we measured it out and cut off the amount of hair to donate. My hair was still below my shoulders but she got a little ahead of herself and took a hunk out of the back, way shorter than I wanted. She then proceeded to have to partially make the rest of my hair that length. Long story short, my hair is waaaay shorter than I wanted and the haircut could be the worst i've ever had. The left side is longer than the right, random parts are just way shorter than the rest. It seems like everyone has a story about getting a hackjob haircut on their mission and i dont know why i thought i would be the exception. I'm not to the point of laughing, but i think it will be a good story. One day. I got to the car and had a bit of a melt down to Sister maddox and came to the library. Hopefully it will grow out before I get home. It took like 5 years to get it as long as it was, so Im not holding my breath for it to be fixed in a year. But miracles happen all the time on missions, right?? :) I hope everyone has a great week! Have fun celebrating the 4th of July. Tell all the Andresen clan that I love them! I wish I could be there beadin right along side Aunt kari, but alas I'm in Pennsylvania. Save my spot for next year Tanta Kari :) I also want to give a shout out to Riley. I am so so grateful for his example and his service in serving our country. I am so proud to call you my brother! And I am so lucky to have so many cousins serving in the armed forces too. We live in a great country becasue of great men and women who serve to keep us safe! Happy 4th of July! I love you all! Have a great week!
Sister Andresen